Human Wellbeing – Nature relationships in rural Sub-Saharan Africa – developing a protocol for the consideration of the natural environmental in multi-dimensional poverty indices
Schaafsma, M. and Gross-Camp, N. (2018). Human Wellbeing – Nature relationships in rural Sub-Saharan Africa – developing a protocol for the consideration of the natural environmental in multi-dimensional poverty indices. 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. doi: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/107844
© the Authors, 2018
The natural environment is included in several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the first SDG of eradicating poverty. In countries like Rwanda and Malawi, despite repeated emphasis of the dependence on natural resources of the rural poor, the wellbeing-nature links have not been detailed or quantified. One step towards quantification of these links would be to integrate environmental indicators into multidimensional poverty indices. However, socially legitimacy of such indicators is a prerequisite. Building on , who demonstrate that in some places there is a conceptual grounding for including the environment as a constituent element in wellbeing measures, we aimed to determine whether the people whose wellbeing is measured deem this to be legitimate. We developed a focus group discussion protocol to elicit perceptions of nature-wellbeing relationships. The methodology includes (a) a wellbeing free-listing exercise, (b) a matching exercise relating the items listed under (a) to a list of predefined wellbeing dimensions based on existing frameworks (see , (c) questions to discuss the relationships between the local environment and wellbeing, and to explore whether these were perceived as instrumental or constituent . We tested this protocol in 15 focus group discussions in rural Rwanda and Malawi in Sep-Nov 2017. The participants described a wide range of environment-wellbeing relationships and recognised the environment as a major wellbeing component and visible in most of the (a priori) dimensions. Environmental problems mentioned included deforestation, declining soil fertility, droughts, floods, declining water quality and quantity, tenuous land tenure, restricted forest access, and crop raiding animals. These issues lead to a loss of income, livelihoods, crops, assets, and even lives; stress; and constrained freedom of choice (e.g. self-confidence, place attachment, self-sufficiency). Low levels of environmental degradation have mostly instrumental impacts, and act as drivers of existing wellbeing dimensions of food, health, water availability and living standards. However, beyond certain thresholds, persistent degradation and natural hazards become disastrous, leading to prolonged stress and psychological health problems. Safety from natural hazards and severe environmental degradation and safe resource access were often mentioned as constituent elements of wellbeing. Having access to and control over environmental and natural resources contributes to freedom of choice. Our results suggest that the inclusion of these constituent wellbeing dimensions in poverty statistics is socially legitimate – at least according to the respondents at the locations we studied - and would reflect a more nuanced picture of ‘poverty’. Operationalisation of such an indicator, however, would require further investigation of threshold levels and pragmatic choices due to data availability. 1. Schleicher, J. et al. 2017. DOI: 10.1002/sd.16 ...
PublisherOpen Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
ConferenceECCB2018: 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland
MetadataShow full item record
- ECCB 2018 
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